Oliver Heldens, best known for his breakthrough track "Gecko," has developed his signature Future House sound in the scene with releases on Tiesto’s imprint Musical Freedom and Spinnin’ Records. With support from artists like Pete Tong, Porter Robinson and Knife Party, the nineteen-year-old Dutch artist's single peaked at #2 on the top Beatport 100 and #1 on the Deep House chart for more than a month. Bridging the gap between mainstage music and the underground, Heldens performs at festivals worldwide and showcases his personal inspirations on his groovy radio show ‘Heldeep.’ EDM.com caught up with the rising producer at TomorrowWorld to talk about his distinctive Future House sound and current collaborations in the studio with Sander Van Doorn, Tiesto, and Chocolate Puma.
Check out a preview of “THIS!” by Oliver Heldens and Sander Van Doorn.
(EDM = Carissa Gerzeny of EDM.com; H = Oliver Heldens)
EDM: Where did the name “Gecko” come from?
H: I wanted a weird animal because it’s a weird track, and I came up with the name “Gecko” because “gek” means “crazy” or “weird” in Dutch at the Netherlands.
EDM: What is the theme of your radio show ‘Heldeep’ and the message you would like to communicate to fans through the weekly podcast?
H: I like to play the music I listen to a lot, and on Heldeep Radio I get to play the music that I don't get to play on the main stages. It's music that inspires me, and isn't really comparable to my live sets.
EDM: There were recently tweets between you and Tchami on the topic of Future House sound where he claimed you were jacking his style. Was this a playful joke between the two of you, or was it something more serious?
H: It is not a joke. Tchami was serious and he thinks that I copy him. I can imagine in his situation, if he really thinks I copy him, then he would be really frustrated because I’m now way bigger than him. The sounds in Gecko, like the bassline for example, I created before I ever heard something from Tchami. My main influences for the stuff I am doing now are old house producers like Fedde Le Grand, Bingo Players, Hardwell, Sander Van Doorn, and several other producers. The new deep house sounds also influence me, like Disclosure and Flume.
EDM: How do you develop your distinctive sound and originality?
H: I think my music is really groovy and deep, but at the same time, it's really energetic and catchy, so the combination makes it unique. There aren't a lot of deep house producers who get support from big EDM DJs in their sets, and I think creativity is key in my success.
EDM: You were recently in the studio with Skrillex and Diplo. How was the experience? Can we expect any future collaborations?
H: It was great to hang out with them - we listened to music while they were working on a track with a rapper. Nothing is planned yet, but maybe in the future I will work with them.
EDM: Are there any producers you are working with at the moment?
H: I recently made a track with Sander Van Doorn which will be released October 6. I also made something with Zeds Dead, and am currently working on something with Chocolate Puma and Tiesto.
EDM: Gecko was released on Tiesto's label, Musical Freedom. How did your relationship with Tiesto begin?
H: Tiesto followed me on Twitter because he supported my previous tracks, so I sent him Gecko via a Twitter message. Within fifteen minutes, I got a reply and he thought it was really good and he wanted to support it. We spoke over Skype, and a week later, we met at his hotel in Amsterdam to discuss the release.
EDM: If you weren’t producing music, what would you be doing in life?
H: I have always wanted to do something creative and create something new or original. Back in the day, I wanted to be an architect or designer, but now I am building and designing music.
EDM: During your sets, do you typically play your own productions, others’ works, or a mix of both?
H: I like to play a lot of my own productions - sometimes there will be sets where I play 14 of my own tracks in one show.
EDM: How do you compare the UK scene to the US scene?
H: The UK scene is naturally more familiar with deep house sounds, but it's catching on now here in the US. The UK people party hard and drink a lot, and American people have a rave culture where people dress up - it is very different. The best gigs for me are in the UK, mostly because that's also where I have my #1 in the UK Singles Charts.